PLOS Reviews

Updated 26 May 2020

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2.7
41%
Recommend to a Friend
62%
Approve of CEO
PLOS Chief Executive Officer Alison Mudditt (no image)
Alison Mudditt
26 Ratings
Pros
  • "Promotes good work/life balance(in 19 reviews)

  • "It's a true pleasure to work with dedicated staff who share enthusiasm in the mission-critical Open Access publishing space that PLOS founded(in 10 reviews)

Cons
  • "In terms of advancement, there isn't much opportunity despite high turnover due to organizational structure(in 7 reviews)

  • "Getting rid of the good people during the many layoffs and restructures which results in working more than 40 hours/week(in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons
  1. Helpful (4)

    "Great place to work"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Editor 
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at PLOS full-time

    Pros

    I have worked in editorial positions at several other science publishers and my experience with PLOS has been the best by far. What I really like about PLOS, and what I think sets it apart from other publishers, is: - The mission. Colleagues and management genuinely care about open access and it just feels great to work for a company that cares about more than just turning a profit or delivering results to shareholders. - The office environment. Colleagues are friendly and supportive, and generous with their time and expertise. People seem to genuinely get along. PLOS also facilitates opportunities to meet with people outside of your immediate team through regular meetings and weekly social events, which helps foster collaboration and unity. - The editorial teams. PLOS is staffed by some of the smartest and hardest working people around. The workload can be intense – there is always more work than there are hours in the day, and the submissions never stop coming – but the goals are reasonable and the senior managers take steps to ensure that the workload is manageable for all editors. I’ve never before worked for a company that cares so much about employees’ work-life balance and where concerns about workload are openly discussed and acted upon. - The work. There’s a lot of it, but it’s varied and interesting. You’ll learn something new and different each day. - The management. The CEO has set a tone of openness and respect within the company. She gives updates at regular company-wide briefings but also holds open office hours to meet 1:1 with all interested employees. She has a very clear view of how she wants to see the company grow in the coming years, which she communicates regularly (and directly) to all staff members. These briefings really help reinforce how our work is contributing to success of the overall mission. Furthermore, the sense of openness and respect is readily apparent in other areas of the company – for example, human resources, who are just about the kindest and most considerate and helpful people on the planet (which has not been my experience at any other company!); and finance, who share regular updates on the company’s overall health and respond immediately to any questions regarding payroll or reimbursement. Employees are treated really well.

    Cons

    Science publishing in general is going through a massive upheaval, and it’s not at all clear what the landscape will look like in 5-10 years. I have a lot of confidence in our CEO and senior managers, as they’ve already made some really hard choices to help PLOS weather the uncertainty that lies ahead. Unfortunately, those hard choices have led to problems with morale in some cases. This is now a known issue and is being openly discussed, though it’s tricky to solve. Overall, I feel like PLOS is firmly on the right track, though there have been and will continue to be some bumps and diversions along the way. Additionally, as PLOS is not a massive publisher, opportunities for career advancement are a little limited once you've been in a role for a couple of years. PLOS invests heavily in personal development, so you'll develop skills that will make you an attractive candidate for positions outside of PLOS, but it's a shame that there are not more career opportunities at higher levels within PLOS. I don't think anything can be done about it, it's just a facet of working for a smaller publisher, and there are many pros to outweigh this particular con.

  2. Helpful (7)

    "Utterly unprofessional and heartless"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate Editor in Cambridge, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at PLOS full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Some very friendly and helpful employees

    Cons

    I was fired half-way through my probation period without any warning or explanation, leaving my family in a difficult financial position. Stay well away!

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    PLOS Response

    May 4, 2020Chief People Officer

    Parting ways is always a difficult decision that we take with great responsibility, weighted in the best interests of the team; I've learned this to be the approach with leaders throughout the organization. I can only speak to the process during my time at PLOS, in which there have been no separations without warning or explanation beforehand. We sincerely wish you and your family the best during these difficult times.

  3. Helpful (9)

    "PLOS ONE Cambridge"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Compensation and Benefits
    Former Employee - Associate Editor 

    I worked at PLOS full-time

    Pros

    - The HR Team try to go above and beyond to help people at the company. - The salary is much higher than the standard for this kind of role. - They have lots of meetings which allow you to see what each part of the company is doing, which helps for professional development and to enable people to get an idea of how an organisation like this works. - The management is understanding about work life balance, homeworking is common.

    Cons

    - The work environment is challenging. - There is a lot of micromanagement, but a lack of consistency. - This may be a symptom of the ongoing changes within the company, but there was a lack of clarity over the kind of professional standards which apply to the role, and a fair degree of confusion over what the requirements of the job are. - This company is not for everybody. - There more focus on driving revenue than I was comfortable with in this role.

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    PLOS Response

    August 27, 2019CEO

    Thanks for taking the time to share more about your experience at PLOS. You’ve noted a number of opportunities for us to improve how we manage and communicate with staff, and we’re currently focused on a management training program that will help our managers grow into the best leaders they can be. Equipping our managers with effective tools for change management is part of that skillset. Best of luck in your new role!

  4. Helpful (14)

    "People are fleeing"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at PLOS full-time

    Pros

    Honestly, very hard to find these days. Historically it was the mission but it’s not really clear what that is anymore.... Some of the people are amazing, have always had incredible colleagues.

    Cons

    Too many to list. Terrible management &; poor communication (it’s the worst kind: pretence of being open & transparent & wanting to hear from staff but then making decisions & never fully explaining or rationalizing them & never responding to concerns raised by staff, let alone addressing them). As a previous reviewer said there is no real strategy or plan for how to move forwards (main plan seems to be to save money by getting rid of people, sometimes with RIFs and sometimes by framing a cull as a reorganization, Sometimes saving money by taking ages to backfill vacancies, all the while talking about some kind of miracle new innovation & related revenue stream - only trouble being no one knows what this is).

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    PLOS Response

    August 27, 2019CEO

    Thanks for taking the time to share this, and I’m sorry that your experience feels so negative. We’ve been through a lot of change as we balance mission and sustainability. While we’re seeing the tangible benefits of this, it’s been tough at times. You’re right that we need to further improve how we both share information and respond to staff concerns – we’ve just launched our new staff Change Coalition and are focused on concrete ways to improve the information cascade. We’d love to hear from you if you have specific ideas – we all want PLOS to be somewhere that we feel proud and excited to work.

  5. Helpful (10)

    "Getting worse"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at PLOS full-time

    Pros

    Location of Cambridge office is good. Plenty of bike parking in the Cambridge office. Work is varied, interesting and can be rewarding. Acquisition of a diverse range of skills during the job. Friendly co-workers. Some managers are responsive and do what they can to respond to concerns about workload. Working for a non-profit means that projects do not have to be financially motivated. Motivation of senior management and junior staff can be well aligned.

    Cons

    Across the last 3 years there has been a tremendous amount of change at PLOS, both across the organisation and within my own team. The changes themselves have generally been positive, but their implementation has been problematic. Large-scale journal-wide projects are implemented without any apparent consideration of the additional workload they produce. In a team where workload is an already an issue this has resulted in considerable downturn in morale, to the point where this is at the lowest point in years. Recent results of the staff survey confirmed workload issues are disproportionately prevalent in editorial teams, apparently to the surprise of management and HR. Meetings to discuss the results of the survey were used as an opportunity for management to defend their actions, rather than to actually effect change. Part of the workload issues are caused by chronic understaffing, with staffing costs in some teams running considerably underbudget. Replacement of staff that have departed is extraordinarily slow which leaves gaps in an already understaffed workforce for months. Reactions to perpetual concerns about workload are never proactive and come at a point where it is too late, if ever. As other reviewers have commented the Cambridge office is somewhat depressing with poorly maintained facilities and minimal parking.

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  6. Helpful (11)

    "Strong mission, but lost its way and losing its staff"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Publications Assistant in Cambridge, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at PLOS full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Worthwhile mission, great people to work with at the team level, and reasonably flexible in terms of hours and working from home. Weekly 'happy hour' set up to help with work/life balance and to encourage socialising. New CEO has had to make tough decisions but is ultimately an approachable, level-headed, well-respected person.

    Cons

    Zero opportunity to move up the career ladder - no real promotion opportunity except the small step from publications assistant to senior publications assistant. Many roles were cut as a result of cost-cutting reductions-in-force leaving staff without roles to move into and no hope of progression. Instead more work is given to those on the lower rungs, without any increase in pay or appreciation. Lowest level staff are expected to handle projects as well as all day-to-day journal management with no appreciation for capacity. No bonuses, yearly payrises are below inflation, and the appraisal system is a joke, with limits on the number of people who can be put forward for the highest score and recommended payrise, despite all staff working tirelessly and without thanks. As a result, highest payrises can easily go to 'the favourite' member of a team, leaving others feeling unappreciated. Being hired for publishing knowledge meant nothing without a science degree - even when working on the publishing side of the company. Morale is at an all time low, and many skilled, devoted people with intricate knowledge and experience work are leaving because they have nowhere to move up to. More higher level staff are being recruited, while the lower levels are shrinking and being cut. The recruitment process for replacing leaving staff is slow, left to the last minute, and often makes no sense - there's no urgency, and so there is never a handover period, and teams are left understaffed for long periods of time. The Cambridge office has some great people working there, but the environment is one of stress and low morale. Problems raised regarding accessibility, lack of parking, and poor morale are put off as someone else's problem. More and more targets have been implemented with no resources to produce results, so micromanagement and stress passed down from managers to staff is a real problem.

    Continue reading

    PLOS Response

    May 2, 2019People and Culture Team

    Thank you for your feedback!

  7. Helpful (1)

    "PLOS - Cambridge Office"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at PLOS full-time

    Pros

    PLOS is a mission driven organisation and the staff who work there really care. It's a relaxed and focussed office and I have enjoyed my time there.

    Cons

    PLOS is currently going through a tough financial time, which could be unsettling for some.

  8. Helpful (19)

    "Zero stars"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at PLOS full-time

    Pros

    I really can't think of one!

    Cons

    - Terrible culture in the Cambridge office, and the office itself is pretty grim and depressing. - Members of the PLOS One team that have been there for longer than a year are unwelcoming, unfriendly and unsupportive; they're basically AI robots with less emotional intelligence. Very high turnover in the team. Pointless meetings. Unnecessary bureaucracy. BORING work. - The morale among employees in general is SO LOW. - Strange car park rules. The car park is so small.

    Continue reading
  9. Helpful (1)

    "A nice place to work"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at PLOS full-time

    Pros

    PLOS works hard to make sure staff feel supported with frequent meetings with line managers and managers. The offices are nice and open and there are opportunities to socialise and relax such as weekly Friday events with food and drink, and monthly breakfasts. The people who work there are passionate about the company and their jobs, and the new CEO is working hard to improve communication and openness.

    Cons

    The work can get quite repetitive and is very adminy. Although people come from both scientific and publishing backgrounds an interest in science is pretty important for you to find the papers and work interesting. Quite quiet office.

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    PLOS Response

    June 25, 2018HR Team

    Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback! It's helpful to know the social mixers in place have a positive impact, and that the transparency and communication improvements are being felt across the organization.

  10. Helpful (13)

    "Stressful and not at all rewarding"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Editor in Cambridge, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at PLOS full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Pay was reasonable, but that's about it. Not worth the stress.

    Cons

    - Company run by academics who don't know how to run a business - It was all about ego, not about getting things done - Big ideas but no implementation - Everyone is angry and miserable

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